Brain Activations of Lexical and Emotional Prosody Perception: An fMRI Study

[Speaker] Tsao, Feng-ming:1
[Co-author] Hsu, Wei-chin Hsu:2, Kao, Chieh:1, Liu, Huei-mei:3
1:National Taiwan University (Taiwan), 2:National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan), 3:National Taiwan Normal University (Taiwan)

Based on lesion data, the emotional prosody of sentences is lateralized to right hemisphere, but linguistic prosody (e.g., intonation, stress) is linked to left hemisphere. However, it remains unclear whether brain activations of emotional prosody are task dependent. In tonal languages (e.g., Chinese), emotional prosody and lexical tones of words are conveyed through same acoustic cues. The acoustic similarities allow us using the fMRI to explore whether hemispheric lateralization of prosody depends on functional instead of acoustical properties. In fMRI trials, Mandarin-speaking adults (n=21) distinguished lexical tones or emotion (happy, angry, sad) presented in three words. Compared with silent baseline, activations of emotional prosody and lexical tones occurred in Superior Temporal Gyrus (left hemisphere). Difference between emotional prosody and lexical tone was activated in Medial Frontal Gyrus (left hemisphere). Results reveal that processing of emotional prosody in words is dissociable from lexical tones and is lateralized to left hemisphere.
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